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Showing posts from 2007

California Laurel Guitar

It's a cold and windy today here in Northern California, there's snow on the ground and it would be impossible for me to warm up my shop so I am using the kitchen table as a work bench. This is the top for the experimental Lacote guitar, it is redwood that is from a salvaged board off a redwood water tank that we once had here on the property. The top is made out of four pieces, the board was only 5 inches wide, the edges of the lower bout are where the narrowest pieces are. This redwood is fairly hard and has a great tap tone. After I glued on the bracing the tap tone became even louder! Remember that this is a small guitar, smaller than the Martin "parlor" guitars. This is the style of bracing that many luthiers used in the 18-19th centuries, it's called  "ladder bracing" and many players today are under the delusion that this is an inferior style of bracing compared to the "X" bracing of Martin and the fan bracing of Spanish classical guita…

Bubinga Tonewood

I bought a board of bubinga, aka African Rosewood, at a local hardwood supplier this summer and I finally got around to resawing some of it. I started out using a rip saw with 5 1/2 TPI (teeth per inch) but I quickly changed over to a saw with 6 TPI. That saw cut better, but resawing bubinga by hand is pretty much like sawing through a firebrick. I am sure that most of you have discovered that most kiln dried wood one buys at a lumber yard tends to want to do weird things when you open it up. It usually cups badly on me and affects the accuracy of subsequent cuts, especially since I rip by hand. I have gotten around some of this problem by ripping out the pieces all at once. A sharp saw helps, too.



I mentioned that resawing bubinga by hand is like sawing through a firebrick, it took me a total of four hours to rip out two backs from this piece of wood. It is cheaper for me to do this than to send it off to a custom resaw buisness which charges $60 an hour, plus shipping. If I pay mysel…

My Workbench

Just a word about my workbench.

I built this bench in 1995 when I started to get serious about my woodworking. I was using the bench my grandfather made, 2 slabs of Douglas fir, with a leg vise, attached to the posts of his workshop with large drawers beneath the top. I can't tell you how many toys I made on this bench when I was a kid, using the tools that he had owned and were just laying around the shop abandoned. In 1995 I saw an episode of The Woodwright's Shop where Roy Underhill built a bench with folding legs. His bench was based on one from The Handyman's Book, by Paul Hasluck, which used a regular metal vise. Roy dispensed with the metal vise, instead he added an apron front (borrowed from Nicholson's English bench) with a holding crochet (borrowed from Roubo's French bench) so that one could use holdfasts to clamp wood. Roy used a bench dog with metal teeth for the top of the bench, I don't-I have a bench stop made from a board attached to the end of…

Early Romantic Guitar, after Martinez

This is the heel of a copy of an 1816 Martinez guitar that I built several years ago and just recently completed the finish on. The heel cap is manzanita burl.



The back and sides are eastern black walnut and the end graft is also manzanita.










A view of the guitar's back.





The top is old growth Douglas fir, handsawn from a board that once was a bleacher seat. This guitar has a wonderful tone and I am always amazed at how loud it is every time I play it. It's a little bit bigger than a tenor uke, but sounds better. I did make a concession by making a "modern" bridge for this guitar, the original has a lute style chordal block that was standard back at the turn of the 19th century. I had a hard time adjusting the guitar's action with that bridge, so I put on the bridge you see. The top bracing is a 3 brace fan, again typical of a Spanish guitar of the period. I find it interesting that the modern Spanish luthier Bernabe used a 3 brace fan on his classical guitars, I don&…

Lutherie

What an intense morning! In the shop by 8am to carve out back bar pockets in the linings for the maple classical guitar and I had the back glued on by 11 am. It was intense because I felt the need to hurry, to get things done before the humidity in the shop dropped too low and not to make any mistakes. I started carving out the pockets with a 1/4 inch wide chisel, something I always do, but I end up putting away the chisels and getting my little a sloyd knife made by Frost. It's a Swedish style knife, sloyd, if I remember right, means "handmade" or "handwork" in Swedish, I use it for everything, to carve the guitar's heel, carve spoons, even remove splinters from my hands. It is a pity that most woodworkers ignore these knives because they think that they are crude tools for crude work, mostly it's an excuse woodworkers use to cover up their lack the experience with them.

Anyway, as you an see, the guitar's back has some gorgeous pillowing and in t…

My Workshop

The side bending machine. I do use a bending pipe, a length of copper pipe heated by a propane torch, to touch up the sides after they come out of the machine and before I attach them to the guitar top.





I keep most of the tools that I use on a regular basis in this tool chest, a creation out of plywood. I would rather use my time building and finishing classical guitars at this point then spendings hours creating a masterpiece tool chest. My resume are my guitars.





This is the workshop. My grandfather built this about 1942, the view that you see was originally his garage, where he worked on his 1936 Dodge. The space to the right was his "workshop", he sharpened handsaws and crosscut saws for local carpenters and loggers and made the occasional hope chest or chair. Notice the lack of power tools, I use handtools exclusively in my luthierie and woodworking, the only power tools I use in guitar building are a Porter-Cable router for the headstocks and a Dremel for routing out bin…

Maple Classical Guitar

Here's the classical guitar that has big-leaf maple back and sides (the back hasn't been glued on yet) this photo shows the rib-blocks being glued on the the transverse bars. The workboard is made out of particle board and is attached to 2x2 support and is adjustable with screws, to correct for any movement in the particle board. I know that it is crude compared to other workboards, but my current shop is basically an old barn that is uninsulated without a controlled climate. I build in environment similiar to what Antiono de Torres worked in, when the humidity goes down to

Maple Classical Guitar

Today, I had hoped to glue the back onto the maple classical guitar that I am making. The back and sides of this classical guitar are big leaf maple, hand sawn out of a board that a friend of mine gave me several years ago. This friend is a well established furniture maker in Estes Park, Colorado and he was wanting to clear out some of his wood inventory. The day I picked out the board he said, "Just make a wonderful classical guitar out of it, that is all the payment that I need." The maple is a little pinkish and displays some wonderful tiger stripping. I couldn't glue the back onto the guitar because I had not glued the rib-blocks onto the upper transverse bars. It's important to anchor these bars to the guitar sides, a classical guitar is very much like a drum, a luthier has to think of stretching a wood top across a rim, just like a drum maker (or a banjo maker) does when he puts on the rawhide skin. I glued on the kerfed linings for the back yesterday and this…